HATTIESBURG, Miss. (WDAM) - Hattiesburg Mayor Toby Barker issued a proclamation for graduates of the Class of 2020 during the Hattiesburg City Council meeting Tuesday night.
Barker made the proclamation as a way to recognize and congratulate graduates as the COVID-19 pandemic has put a halt to many things around the area, including proper graduation ceremonies.
“This senior year has been less than normal, and a lot of things, like seeing your friends and siblings and parents, traditions they have been able to do during their senior year before graduation, hasn’t come to pass due to COVID-19,” said Barker. “For all of our high school graduates this week, we wanted to issue this proclamation.”
Barker mentioned the support shown by businesses in the city as many of them have signs in front of them to congratulate those who have graduated this school year.
“[We’re] really trying to make our seniors feel special at a time when they were kind of robbed of what was really due to them in terms of accolades and praise,” said Barker.
Below is what is read in the proclamation:
“WHEREAS, coronavirus has presented immense challenges for everyone in our community, including our partners in education – and, specifically for the graduating classes of 2020;
WHEREAS, throughout the final months of their high school and collegiate careers, graduating classes had to tackle new technology and take on new ways of learning;
WHEREAS, the terms “social-distancing,” “ZOOM,” “masks,” “quarantine” and “celebration parades” will forever play a role in describing this chapter of what will be incredible stories told to their own children one day;
WHEREAS, many of the traditional celebrations that come with a final education year – proms, graduation celebrations and graduation itself - had to be canceled, rescheduled or reimagined;
WHEREAS, all of Hattiesburg’s graduating classes of 2020 have watched history unfold before them - through the lenses of public health, social and civil conversations;
WHEREAS, Hattiesburgers have always risen to the occasion of showing empathy in times of need and celebration in times of triumphs; and
WHEREAS, we invite all of our citizens to celebrate Hattiesburg’s graduates by getting to know them, recognizing their aspirations and contributions and honoring them through this journey – a journey that has looked so very different than those who have walked before them;
NOW, THEREFORE, I, Mayor Toby Barker, with the Hattiesburg City Council, do hereby proclaim the week of June 15 – June 19 as Graduate Recognition Week in the City of Hattiesburg, where we will celebrate all of Hattiesburg’s graduates who are a part of the Class of 2020.”
At the end of reading the proclamation, Barker encourages others to congratulate a graduate that they know.
“If you know a senior, whether a college senior or high school senior that’s going through this time, I encourage you to reach out to them and let them know how proud you are of them, especially in the situation we have.”